Most people reading this have experienced bullying firsthand. Whether you were the victim, bystander, or the perpetrator, bullying happens all the time, all around us, and is only getting worse.
The term “bullying” usually reminds people of physical violence: shoving a classmate into a locker, knocking someone’s books out of their hands, or screaming obscenities that result in physical assault. While these occurrences are alarming and certainly happen daily, many people look past other forms of “bullying” that are all around us.
Has anyone ever heard and repeated a rumor about you or a friend? Have your classmates or coworkers ever maliciously gossiped about you or a peer? These seemingly “harmless” acts can leave people feeling outcasted, alone, ashamed and embarrassed. And that is bullying.
Now we introduce social media…
I remember back in 7th grade, more than 11 years ago, when kids starting trading in their bikes for computer screens, and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) became our new favorite toy. This was mostly used to have the same conversation with your friends: “Hey.” “Hey.” “What’s up?” “nmu?” “same.” Other times it became a contest to see who had the coolest screen name, profile, or away message. And other times, it became a cruel world of gossip, namecalling and nicekidsturnedbullies hiding behind computer screens.
While I’ve been a victim of cyberbullying numerous times, I was also a “peer leader” among my classmates, where I was often faced with overseeing and mediating these incidences. More times than not, I was in complete shock when I found out who was behind these fake alias’. Keyboards and computer screens can fuel jealousy and give people a sense of security to lash out at others even those we may consider friends.
Whether you were bullied, a friend was bullied, or you once bullied others yourself, I encourage you to take a stand against this violence. Bullying can end with you.
Remember to always:
– Refuse to pass on messages
– Tell friends to stop
– Block communication with cyberbullies
– Report to a trusted adult
Keep an eye out for more specific posts and please comment/share your own stories!